The construction of this ultra-modern city, situated in the centre of Brazil, began in 1956. Since its official foundation on 21 April 1960, the city has served the purpose for which it was built: to replace Rio de Janeiro as the country’s capital. As a result, the bulk of Brazil’s federal administration and political power are centred here.
The move to take the capital away from the coast gradually began gathering momentum after Brazil gained independence in 1822. The switch was intended to symbolise the country’s change from a colonial state to an independent nation, and this intention was legally documented in 1891 by an article in the Constitution. But it was not until 1953, under the presidency of Getulio Vargas, that the idea resurfaced. It fell to another president, Juscelino Kubitschek, to bring the project to fruition, with the start of construction in 1956 and the city’s official founding four years later both coming during his time in office.
One of the city’s striking features is its wide avenues, which surround both its public buildings and its two districts, one to the north and the other to the south. These are divided into so-called superblocks, each of which contain numerous buildings. The central part of the cross is the Praça dos Três Poderes (Three Powers’ Square). Here can be found the country’s seats of Executive and Legislative Power as well as the headquarters of the Supreme Federal Court.
Widely considered to be avant-garde city in architectural terms, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia and the Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge are without doubt the most iconic structures. Both were designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the man behind most of the landmark buildings in the new capital. Due to its architectural feats, Brasilia is the only city in the world constructed in the 20th century to have been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
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